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We’ve got plans! Stay tuned.

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  • Are you guys going to be on kpbs again ? If you are or will be, can you please advise as to ‘when’ the sessions will be aired ? Also, what happened with the two gentlemen that used to do this show, what’s up with them ? Thanks, Larry

  • I hope the show continues, my husband and I love listening to it! Since our local public radio doesn’t carry it (the fools!), we record the podcasts and then listen to them in the car when we’re driving around the city together.

  • larry, episodes will continue airing at least into September. As for other details, your best bet is to sign up for the email list or visit this site regularly. That’s the best way to find out what’s happening when we know.

    You can find Charlie at his site and Rich at his.

  • Booooh! Hsssss

    I am so very, very bummed at this news (that is, that the show’s been cancelled, not that you are going to carry on).

    I enjoy the show and look forward to your continued existence…

  • What is meant by “the show’s been cancelled?” Is that a local radio (not podcast) news item? As I live in Savannah, Georgia, I’m not sure where to find that news….

  • Elizabeth, our producing station, KPBS has decided to stop producing the show. However, we, the co-hosts and producer of the show, are already working to take the show to another broadcast outlet–with the encouragement of KPBS management, which loves the show but finds it to be too expensive compared to other programming. This web site is going to be the center of that activity, so you can come back here or sign up to the email list to be sure you hear about our new arrangements. You can read more about the KPBS decision here.

  • I certainly hope that the program continues. I enjoy the program and the different segments. I wish I had your memory about the wide range of topics discussed every week.

  • If AWWW is moved to another public radio host, does that mean that the whole AWWW crew will go somewhere else? I live in San Diego and was really looking forward to applying for and going to SDSU because the AWWW program and KPBS was there, but if it moves I will be truly hurt. I don’t really wish to go elsewhere for school because I plan to major in linguistics, and if I can’t have such a great show coming right out of my college, then I’m at a loss as to where I should go to further my education. Stay put I say!

  • Cancelled? So to whom can I complain about the increasingly prevalent use of “absolutely” in place of “yes?”

  • I have been a WWW listener since the original C H Elster and Richard Lederer show began. Just had lunch with my friend Lorraine who gave me the sad news via Tom Fudge. We are so bummed and lamented together through our repast how very much WWW has so enriched our lives and edification. Hope you get back on track soon. In the meantime, where and to whom can we complain, yell, scream, etc?

    Your dedicated fans,

    Grace & Lorraine

  • Grace and Lorraine, rest assured that any comments you leave on this site or send us via email will be shared in a very polite way with KPBS management.

  • I have listened to KPBS and KWAC since coming to Yuma last June. Yours is one of the best shows on both stations. While I love language I have no where near the education that you bring to bear every week. It is a pleasure to listen to you. Please find a way to produce the broadcast (or narrow cast) as hearing you speaking correctly may well be the only way to hear correct pronunciation and usage. I grew up in a family that read but not aloud and even today I come across word that I have read for years but have never heard until your show.
    Bert O’Connor

  • I’m somewhat perplexed. Never having heard your show, I cannot easily envision a program about words and the uses and abuses of the English language which could cost more than any other programming.

    Do you have a huge budget for sandwiches and coffee?

  • Our budget is, in fact, relatively small. Like most public radio wages, ours are very modest and lower than they would be for comparable roles in commercial radio–and even commercial radio doesn’t pay that well, except for the really big stars. I can’t go into more details for obvious reasons, but suffice it to say that we punch above our weight class. We do more with less. We know how to make the most of every dollar we get. Other caller-based weekly public radio programs similar to ours have several times as many people on staff but they don’t sound many times as good–some of them even sound less professional.

  • Martha and Grant … I am crushed!

    I can’t believe I just heard the news that KPBS is cancelling your show so unceremoniously!
    I have been listening in for many years and personally think A Way With Words has never been better.
    I hope you will find a way to keep the show on the airwaves. At least fans of the show can follow you on your websites. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors …Donna

  • Every weekend I looked forward to listening your show which was one of my favorites on KPBS-FM. The General Manager’s decision to cancel it is unpopular and has caused a firestorm of protests to the station. I hope you will read my Letter To The Editor which appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on 8/4/07.
    Weekends will never be the same without your refreshing and original program and I hope it finds a new home soon!

  • In the lexicographer’s rules you say that A Way with Words is a programme of international calibre. I agree. I’m a Brit living in Spain and I always look forward to the show. However, to really become an international show, I think you’d need to have regular input from experts on other “Englishes” (bleagh sorry about that) and not concentrate so heavily on US usage. I’ll be listening out for any news from the show.

    Don’t change the feed, it’s our lifeline to you.

  • I’m bummed about the show cancellation. If you haven’t seen this yet, it might make you smile.

    Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to
    its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings
    for common words.

    The winners are:

    1. Coffee (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
    2. Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
    3. Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
    4. Esplanade (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.
    5. Willy-nilly (adj.) impotent.
    6. Negligent (adj.) describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly
    answer the door in your nightgown.
    7. Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
    8. Gargoyle (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.
    9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run
    over by a steamroller.
    10. Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.
    11. Testicle (n.) a humorous question on an exam.
    12. Rectitude (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
    13. Pokemon (n) a Rastafarian proctologist.
    14. Oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
    15. Frisbeetarianism (n.) (back by popular demand): The belief that, when
    you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
    16. Circumvent (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by
    Jewish men.

    And the Washington Post’s Style Invitational also asked readers to take
    any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing
    one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year’s winners:

    1. Bozone (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright
    ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little
    sign of breaking down in the near future.
    3. Cashtration (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
    financially impotent for an indefinite period.
    4. Giraffiti (n) Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
    5. Sarchasm (n) The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
    person who doesn’t get it.
    6 . Inoculatte (v) To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
    7. Hipatitis (n) Terminal coolness.
    8. Osteopornosis (n) A degenerate disease.
    9. Karmageddon (n) It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these
    really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like,
    a serious bummer.
    10. Decafalon (n.) The grueling event of getting through the day consuming
    only things that are good for you.
    11. Glibido (v) All talk and no action.
    12. Dopeler effect (n) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
    they come at you rapidly.
    13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you’ve
    accidentally walked through a spider web.
    14. Beelzebug (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your
    bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
    15. Caterpallor (n.) The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit
    you’re eating.

  • Well, I always say, “Most words are new to most people most of the time.” Even dictionary editors. A few weeks ago I finished a book set in Ireland and there were about 30 words I didn’t know that I wrote down to look up later.

  • BUMMER!!
    I heard the news that KPBS is cancelling your show but Tom Fudge spoke about a possiblity that you will be able to form your own organization to offer the show. I would like to remain a fan and hope to hear you again (after September). I wish I was stable enough to offer support$$$ but I’ll listen for you. Please come back.
    Best wishes,
    Lorraine in Carlsbad

  • I was stunned, and so sorry, to hear that your show has been canceled on KPBS. I’ve been listening to it from the beginning, with Charlie Elster and Richard Lederer. Perhaps you could podcast your show.

    I invite you to visit my blog, Word Lover, devoted to English words derived from myths, http://word-lover.blogspot.com/

  • Dear Word Wizards,

    Please give us the word as to where you will be next.

    Martha sounds like such an appealing, warm, brimming with enthusiasm, playful and fun person.

    Thank you for your gift.


  • Oh, Wayword Ones …

    So sorry to hear the unhappy news. I’ve been catching the show on Wisconsin Public Radio, and I think it’s been great – better than ever, in fact. I’ll be listening to your podcast. In fact, I already do …


  • Good luck Martha and Grant. I was totally surprised that KPBS would stop funding to a program that appeared to be growing each year. Don’t syndication payments eventually grow higher than production costs? It seems that, with the stations appoach, if they were suddenly presented with “A Prarie Home Companion”, they’ed kill it immediately due to high production costs.
    I hope they can explain their reasoning a bit better. I’ve been a generous contributor since I moved to the San Diego area from KQED in the Bay Area. I’m pretty sure KQED would never take such a short sighted action.
    I too am of the generation that learned about adverbs in Grammar school and was happy to have found somewhere on the airwaves were they were still spoken.

  • Grant and Martha,

    While it’s disappointing to hear that KQED will no longer be producing the show, I hope that you both see it as a push to step forward rather than as a setback!

    Though I’m originally from the US, I currently live in London where I download and listen to two NPR podcasts faithfully: yours and Wait Wait!

    I think that one of the great things about your show is its ability to appeal to a wide audience through humor and sophistication despite it being a rather niche subject. Please take it as a compliment when I say that AWWW is a Cartalk waiting to happen, you just need to find a bold enough producer. Good luck, keep up the good work, and do keep us posted! Jeff

  • “A Cartalk waiting to happen.” Jeff, I like the way you think!

    And thanks — we do feel like we have the wind at our back now. The show’s been gathering momentum for some time — adding new stations, refinining the creative process, and building a worldwide audience through podcasts — and it’s nice to be moving forward with the blessing of KPBS management. We’re very optimistic about the future.

  • Cancelled? Rats.

    Hopefully with the advent of the podcast we can keep hearing you guys (I’d really miss Martha’s sexy laugh!)

    Is there anything we in the AWWW fandom can do to help insure the survival of the show?

  • Hi, David — Yes! You can spread the word to all your word-loving pals to sign up for our free email list. The link’s at the top of this page on the right. And we’re looking forward to having some fun on our discussion forum here, too.

    Of course, if you’re looking to invest cold, hard cash i the show, we’ll accept that, too. 🙂

    Hmmmmm, do you think I should stand outside with a sign that says, “Will Laugh for Underwriting”?

  • Here is the email that I sent to KPBS General Manager Doug Myrland:

    I am very disappointed to learn that you are cancelling
    “A Way with Words.”

    What can you be thinking?
    What kind of mismanagement led us to this point?

    “A Way with Words”
    is one of the most wonderful programs on public radio.
    This show should not be cancelled.
    It should be syndicated throughout the PBS system.

    As a long-term supporter of KPBS,
    I will not contribute further until you restore “A Way with Words”.

    This morning on “These Days,”
    You suggested, contemptuously it seemed to me,
    that this was your decision, and that these things are not put to a vote.
    You said listeners and viewers would have to decide
    if they want to continue supporting KPBS.

    So be it.
    You won’t get another penny from me until you restore
    “A Way with Words.”

    And I shall encourage all my friends to withhold their support
    until you correct this egregious error in judgment.

    I know times are tough,
    but the cancellation of “Away with Words” and “Full Focus”
    simply is not acceptable.

    Thanks for listening.

  • So, where to next for “A Way with Words?” I found it inconceivable that the show is expensive to produce (sorry, maybe I’m just ignorant about radio production)! But honestly, I’ll bet there’s an economical Web-based solution around all that Public Radio overhead that could put you live and in touch with a Web audience!

  • Well, the short version, Wayne, is that the show isn’t expensive for an hour of national-quality radio.

    The number that’s been thrown around, $250K, seems like a lot but, a) it’s rounded up at five places, so the real total is less than that; b) it includes everything, including unavoidable overhead that only indirectly is related to the show; c) 37% of wage expenses go to benefits (good benefits = more expense, so it’s always a trade-off); d) wages for the show were average or below average for that type of work in San Diego.

  • I am a podcast only listener, here in Nappanee, Indiana. The local PBS stations do not carry ‘A Way With Words’. I started listening in December when there was a mention of the podcast on the podcast for ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me . . .’ and have enjoyed AWWW every week since. If there is a way to contribute to the continuation of the show, I would appreciate hearing of it.

    Thank you for the forum to express my opinion, also.

  • I just heard that one of my all time favorite radio shows is being cancelled. While visiting relatives just last week in Nebraska I was talking about the show and how much I enjoy it. I do hope it continues in some form! What a loss, if not. You two fabulous hosts and your predecessors have provided an incredible listening experience, and I wish to thank you!

  • Martha and Grant,

    I am dumbstruck on my way to outraged that your show is even being considered for cancellation. Hopefully, this will be a great opportunity for the show to move on to a bigger and better forum.

    Listening to the show over the past couple years, it just keeps getting better. I am eagerly anticipating the next step for the show and you both.

    Thanks for putting together what has been one of the highlights of my week.


  • Wow, we’re really touched by all these kind thoughts, ya’ll. I’m delighted to hear there are so many other people out there who love words and love intelligent conversation about language — and all the ways that language becomes a lens for looking at the world.

    You folks Do have a way with words! And the good news is that Grant and I and our incredibly talented producer, Stefanie Levine, are working feverishly to ensure (not insure!) that we’ll all continue to have “A Way with Words.” So if you haven’t done so already, do click on the “Join the email list” option up at the top of this page, so you don’t miss a thing.

    And thanks again. I really am touched to read all your comments — and trust me, they only serve to make us even More motivated!

  • No pithy comments here… just sincere best wishes, and an offer of hope that you find a way to continue to do something you, and we, so very much enjoy. Been listening for several years since an accidental KPBS discovery on a business trip to San Diego.

    I have podcasts on a cd so my 11 year old and I can listen on drives around town. He’s a junior verbivore and not at all happy with NPR’s decision either!


  • Martha & Grant,

    So sad to hear the terrible news. This was a podcast that I listened to every week. I played your show in my car and am not looking forward to the radio again(:

    I will support your efforts if you start a new podcast.
    Mike McCoy

  • I have been taking your wondrous program for granted.

    ok..that wasn’t funny at all.

    BUT just know that the chemistry you have together is what truly makes the show work! Don’t split up! You’ll find a home cause you guys RULE!

    Although I know nothing about anything, I do know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Martha and Grant!
    I’m flabbergasted by KPBS’s decision! A Way With WOrds is such an original program. I liked it with Charles and Richard (kind of like chatting with the Dads…), but I LOVE how you two have updated the show; you even played a music clip from the Sex Pistols!

    It makes no sense to me. KPBS probably pays at least $250k for the show from the somewhat funny guy from Wisconsin….how many people listen to that? They admit that AWWW was popular AND local…and yet, they cancelled it…Hello, Earth to KPBS? (and while you’re at it, can you ask the TV-wing to stop showing Lawrence Welk re-runs and Are You Being Served?)

    I really hope you find a new home. Fast. Have you approached KUT (npr affiliate in Austin, TX)? They’re one of the coolest stations I’ve listened to. (OK, so I’m a misplaced Longhorn…) I’m sure you’ll find a new home soon. And anyplace is likely to be cheaper than San Diego…

  • Hey, Vic, Mike, Jeremy, and Natasha (and yes, I insist on using a serial comma in this list)!

    Thanks so much for your kind words. We truly appreciate them, and it’s great to know that there are so many lovers of intelligent conversation out there.

    Hearing from you just convinces us further that forging ahead with the show is exactly what we should be doing. As I’ve said elsewhere, the good news is that our creative team remains firmly intact, and we hope to have some exciting news to announce very soon.

    So do sign up for our “A Way with Words” email newsletter, ok? That way you’ll be the first to hear when it happens!


    (And Natasha, yes, the Austin station is defintely on our list. I was talking with someone just the other day about what a cool place that is. Not that I’ve been to Austin, mind you, but I gave serious thought to going to their grad school there for classical languages. I hear it’s one rockin’ town.)

  • WOW – I feel like I’m a little behind the times. I just found out my favorite show has been canceled. I’ve been listening to the reruns on the assumption you guys were on vacation or …

    So, what’s the next step? Is there anything us listeners can do? I really enjoy your show and have learned a lot. Well, thanks and have a great day.

  • Hi, Allan — Thanks very much for your concern. And not to worry — you’re not That out of it! 🙂 KPBS’s withdrawing funding for the show is still news to a lot of people.

    However, the good news is that our creative team at AWWW is hard at work behind the scenes to ensure that our listeners experience no interruption in service!

    We expect to have some great news for you very soon about this. So the one big thing you can do here is to sign up for our free “A Way with Words” email newsletter, and spread the word to all your word-loving friends as well:


    (Of course, if anyone wants to talk about being an official sponsor of the show, believe me, Grant and I are all ears! Just imagine YOUR name in lights — well, in the credits we read at the end of the show each week — and the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping to promote interesting, cultivated, and educational conversation on the radio! Something to think about, anyway.)

  • Martha, you say “You can spread the word to all your word-loving pals ” … but Martha, Martha, why do you think we word-nerds listen to your show on our iPods in secret? Do you think people like us actually HAVE friends who SHARE this nit-picking interest in, you know, thinking, speaking, and writing clearly??

  • Wow. And just as I had a brilliant insight about a word and send it off a little bit ago — I get the auto reply that sent me here, and now I learn you are becoming homeless.

    If I can recommend a place for you two to look for a new home let me suggest any of the stations of the Wisconsin Ideas network. Given the chance I’d be living in Milwaulkee tomorrow morning. Madison is hellagood fun and La Crosse is is in the middle of one of the great unsung scenic wonders of America — the Driftless Area.

    I want to wish you all the best of good fortune getting back up and running as soon as possible. My Sunday mornings are going to have a big hole in them if you can’t get back on the Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network.

    Michael McGuckin

  • Hi, Michael — Thanks for your kind message! The good news is that I think we’re about to give birth to some bouncing baby good news, so DO sign up for our free email newsletter, so you’ll know right away:


    And our esteemed producer, Stefanie Levine, and her husband are both U-W-Madison grads, so she knows whereof you speak! And we expect to be recording new shows very soon, so do send those brilliant insights to us at words@waywordradio.org!

  • Martha & Grant,
    My partner and I have been tickled to either pod*catch* your show or listen on WFPL here in Louisville.

    We hope you find a way to keep going!!

  • Hi, Mia! We will – expect an announcement very soon in our e-newsletter.

    And say hi to the ‘Ville for me. I hear some of the leaves are just starting to turn. I could use a Cherokee Park fix about now….

  • Dear Martha, Stephanie and Grant,
    I am thrilled with the news and can’t wait to spread it. As an English major and former English teacher often hungering for more sumptuous syntax and varied vocabulary, I feasted on the program each week and am delighted that the banquet continues.
    Break a leg,

  • Thank you for many great mornings. What a wonderful program. I love your show. Its such good quality. I am going to miss the sound of your voices. If there is any way I can help…

    How about begging: Please, please, please stay on the air!

    Word lover

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